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National

Chicago Cubs Fans Adjust To Post-Curse Living After World Series Win

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

For fans of the Chicago Cubs, next year is finally here. Last night's Game 7 win clinched the team's first World Championship in 108 years.

PATRICK CUNNINGHAM: Been waiting for it pretty much my whole life. You know, it's a big celebration out here tonight - supposed to go to work in the morning, but I doubt it.

SHAPIRO: As Cubs fans like Patrick Cunningham (ph) may have realized today, winning after decades of losing can take some getting used to. NPR's Gabe O'Connor went through something similar when his San Francisco Giants won the World Series in 2010. So let him walk you through what to expect when you no longer expect the worst.

GABE O'CONNOR, BYLINE: Congratulations, Cubs fans, and welcome to your first full day of being a winner. Now what? First, if you're employed, give up trying to work. It's not going to happen. Oh, sure, you say you're going to be productive, but what you're actually going to do is watch highlights of last night's game anywhere between 20 and 500 times. And you're can read that article your mom posted on Facebook about the 110-year-old fan who finally got to see his team win. And you're going to high five complete strangers a lot.

Admit it. You've already done something like this, haven't you? Now, if you're worried that this is the sign of an impending mental breakdown, don't be.

SUSAN KRAUSS WHITBOURNE: There's no reason to consider it abnormal.

O'CONNOR: Susan Krauss Whitbourne is a psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a Boston Red Sox fan.

WHITBOURNE: We always love to relive great moments, whether they're personal glories or our team. It's a great feeling when it happens, and you want to recapture that great feeling.

O'CONNOR: So bask away in the euphoria, says Julien Marques.

JULIEN MARQUES: That's absolutely OK, and I also think it's fine that if you work next to a co-worker that maybe roots for a rival team, wall-papering their cubicle in the championship headlines from your team winning - definitely celebrate it to the fullest extent.

O'CONNOR: The 39-year-old Marques spent most of his life thinking the Red Sox were cursed. They hadn't won a title since 1918 and since the team traded away a young, left-handed pitcher named Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. In the ensuing 80-plus years, the Yankees won 26 titles. The Red Sox - well, they found new ways to define postseason heartbreak and fan-base torture.

It used to be easy to make a Sox fan go crazy. Just mention Bill Buckner, Aaron Boone or Bucky [expletive] Dent, and they twitch uncontrollably. It was just assumed their team would eventually break their hearts. That is until 2004.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Back to Foulke - Red Sox have longed to hear it. The Boston Red Sox are world champions.

O'CONNOR: And like that, the miserable albatross of losing was lifted off Sox fans like John Quinn.

JOHN QUINN: Finally no more just of this 1918 garbage. No more this you'll-never-see-your-team-win. This curse of the Bambino garbage is all gone. That was one of the best parts of seeing the Red Sox win - was seeing all that stuff just disappear forever.

O'CONNOR: Also suddenly, an entire region of the country had to redefine itself. New England was no longer the home of impending October doom. It was the home of champions. Psychology professor Susan Whitbourne says it's not the worst problem to have, but...

WHITBOURNE: It's like winning a lottery in a way. You have this good fortune fall upon you, and you're not really sure how to adjust your identity. How does your identity change from the underdog to the winner? There's a readjustment involved in any event that causes us to change our identity.

O'CONNOR: Also, it's time to get ready for an entirely new, very 21st century problem - the haters. Again, John Quinn...

QUINN: They've been saying that everybody loves a winner but right at the time they win. But once you go forward, it's like, OK, that's it. You've won. Now let's go root for somebody else.

O'CONNOR: So enjoy, says Julien Marques.

MARQUES: Celebrate it for a week. Celebrate it for a month. But enjoy that euphoria and definitely push that as long as you can because you never know when the next one's going to come.

O'CONNOR: Hopefully, Chicago, that next one won't take another century. Gabe O'Connor, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.